Caracas, October 15, 2004—The Carter Center issued a statement today, in which it declared that the Center will not observe the upcoming October 31 regional elections. The declaration, which was released to the media, says that the two conditions under which the Carter Center observes elections could not be fulfilled for this vote.
Whenever the Carter Center observes an election it evaluates two criteria: a) does the center have the capacity to organize an adequate observation delegation and b) do all relevant actors want the center’s participation.
According to the statement, the center does not have sufficient time or resources to organize an adequate delegation this time around. With regard to the second criterion, the center explains that the opposition, as represented by the opposition coalition the Democratic Coordinator, has rejected the Carter Center’s reports on the recall referendum, so that it is unlikely that the Center’s observation of the regional vote would increase the confidence in that vote.
The Carter Center assures that it will continue to process the claims of fraud that the opposition has submitted to them and will also continue to pay attention to events in Venezuela.
The Center has been observing nearly all of Venezuela’s elections in the past six years, ever since Chavez was first elected in December 1998. Since then eight national votes have taken place, with the most recent being the August 15 recall referendum against President Chavez. The Carter Center endorsed the official results of that referendum, but the opposition argued that the Carter Center did not pay close enough attention and missed the massive fraud that the opposition claims took place.
According to some opposition commentators, such as prominent talk show host Marta Colomina, the Carter Center’s turning down of the invitation to observe the regional elections is an admission of its failure to properly observe the recall referendum.